FOR MORE THAN A HUNDRED years, deep in a dusty enclave of the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, there sat a restricted collection—2,100 books deemed too subversive, too toxic, too scandalous for eager minds. These books, principally concerned with sex, made up the “Phi” collection, bearing the Greek “Φ” on their spines like a mark of sin. But things are different now, and these books are proudly on display at the Bodleian, in the Story of Phi: Restricted Books exhibit that opened on November 15, 2018.
The store’s tweet about the sale has since gone viral and received thousands of replies. Author Sarah Todd Taylor tweeted in response, “The book held its breath. It had hoped so often, only to have that hope crushed. Hands lifted it from the shelf, wrapped it warmly in paper. As the door closed on its past life, the book heard the soft cheers of its shelfmates.”
With minutes to go until game time, the 12 elite sorters have emerged, wearing matching BookOps T-shirts. They march toward the machine as if boarding Apollo 11. The offices upstairs have emptied into the basement, and a wide variety of library personnel fill every available space in the room to cheer the sorters on. “We’re gonna take ‘em down, it’s not gonna be an issue,” says Michael Genao, a 22-year-old sophomore sorter with a linebacker’s build. “I guarantee it,” he adds, as he paces between his teammates, the last few bites of a chocolate donut in his hand.
More than 250 antiquarian book dealers in 24 countries say they are pulling over a million books off an Amazon-owned site for a week, an impromptu protest after the site abruptly moved to ban sellers from several nations.
The flash strike against the site, AbeBooks, which is due to begin Monday, is a rare concerted action by vendors against any part of Amazon, which depends on third-party sellers for much of its merchandise and revenue. The protest arrives as increasing attention is being paid to the extensive power that Amazon wields as a retailer — a power that is greatest in books.
A new free website spearheaded by the Library Innovation Lab at the Harvard Law School makes available nearly 6.5 million state and federal cases dating from the 1600s to earlier this year, in an initiative that could alter and inform the future availability of similar areas of public-sector big data.
Led by the Lab, which was founded in 2010 as an arena for experimentation and exploration into expanding the role of libraries in the online era, the Caselaw Access Project went live Oct. 29 after five years of discussions, planning and digitization of roughly 100,000 pages per day over two years
The largest part of the policy change is that as of January 2020, Wellcome and Gates will no longer allow their grantees to publish in so-called hybrid OA journals, which have both subscription and free content. Most scientific journals now follow that hybrid business model, which allows authors to pay a fee if they want to make their articles OA. For the past decade, Wellcome has allowed its grantees to pay these fees, in part because it viewed them as a way to help publishers finance a switch in their business models to full OA. “We no longer believe it’s a transition,” says Robert Kiley, head of open research at the Wellcome. “We’re looking to bring about a change where all research is open access.”
The prize, founded by Trevor Bounford and the late Bruce Robinson of publishing solutions firm the Diagram Group, is the annual celebration of the book world’s strangest and most perplexing titles. The Bookseller and its legendary diarist Horace Bent have been custodians of the prize since 1982.
The six books up for what Bent has called “the most prestigious literary gong Britain—nay the world—has ever known” are: Are Gay Men More Accurate in Detecting Deceits? (Open Dissertation Press); Call of Nature: The Secret Life of Dung (Pelagic Publishing); Equine Dry Needling (tredition); Jesus on Gardening (Onwards and Upwards); Joy of Waterboiling (Achse Verlag) and Why Sell Tacos in Africa? (Blue Ocean Marketing).
Romance writers, be forewarned, the child who leaps into her arms or the heroine who leaps into his has almost a five percent chance of ending up elsewhere, when GoogleBooks OCRs your text.
According to 2017 estimates released this summer by the Association of American Publishers, sales of adult fiction fell 16% between 2013 and 2017, from $5.21 billion to $4.38 billion. The numbers, though not a major worry, raise questions about the books the industry is publishing and what consumers want to read.
We invited scholars from across the academy to tell us what they saw as the most influential book published in the past 20 years. (Some respondents named books slightly outside our time frame, but we included them anyway.) We asked them to select books — academic or not, but written by scholars — from within or outside their own fields. It was up to our respondents to define “influential,” but we asked them to explain why they chose the books they did. Here are their answers.